New Castle News

Josh Drespling

May 24, 2014

Josh Drespling: Yes, my dad is in Iraq — and here’s why

NEW CASTLE — I've uttered a phrase the past couple weeks that I never thought I would verbalize. Something that I assumed only befell military families, top ranking politicians, and international businessmen.

I've had the opportunity to tell various people in my life that my dad is in Iraq. This statement is always followed with a bewildered look and a multitude of questions. I can see their minds turning with sincere interest in why a man would go to such a place of his own free will.

It is with honor, dignity, and while choking back a tear of pride that I tell this tale. You see, my dad is not there fighting for a government, for oil, land rights, or even religion. He is simply there to help his fellow man (though he has been known to let Jesus shine through his every action).

He flew halfway around the world with a 10-hour layover in Canada and a flight longer than most Americans’ workdays, to the land-locked Austria. Then it was on to his final destination, the turmoil-ridden nation of Iraq.

He is part of an organization called CRI (Crisis Response International). They are a volunteer civilian organization that, at a moment’s notice, are traveling to the site of natural disasters to help those in need. They have been deployed during Hurricane Sandy, Katrina, and countless tornado outbursts in the Midwest. They are often on the ground with first responders long before FEMA and other government organizations have even had a meeting about the catastrophe. They offer medical aid, meals, labor, shoulders to cry on, and a multitude of necessities that such a situation demands. They show up willing to do whatever it takes to help. They bring trailers and trucks full of tools, supplies, and men ready to work to rebuild the lives of the people affected.

Currently he is in Iraq, serving the multitude of refugees flooding into the country from neighboring Syria. These refugees are men, women, and children fleeing a nation in conflict. A nation that has become an international hot-button topic for talking heads from all sides of the fence. Despite the risk of personal harm, and the fact that he is an American Christian pastor in a place that does not hold any of those qualifications in high regard, he is there to help those in need.

Before he left, he received additional training. The most notable was proper techniques of how to deliver a baby in a less-than-ideal environment. He was informed that many women try to make it out of the country before they give birth and end up giving birth shortly after entering Iraq. He was told, “Be prepared, ’cause it will more than likely happen while you are there.”

I can only imagine the things he is seeing and experiencing at this very moment. If only I could be a fly on the wall and observe all the goings-on on the other side of our planet. I'm sure he will return with a throng of stories about his humanitarian adventure to the Middle East. Stories that he will be telling for the rest of his life. Stories I'm sure will be passed onto my children and even grandchildren.

I hope that someday, I am afforded the opportunity and have the tenacity to give so much of myself and expect nothing in return.

I'm proud of you, Dad.

Be safe, and see you when you return!


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Josh Drespling
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